- I-1401 makes it a crime to sell, purchase, trade, or distribute parts and products of any wildlife species covered under the initiative.
- Endangered animals covered by this initiative include elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays.
- Violations are punishable either as a gross misdemeanor, or a Class-C felony.
On Tuesday, an overwhelming majority of Washington voters — around 71 percent — passed an anti-wildlife trafficking initiative called Initiative 1401 (I-1401) that bans trade in wildlife parts and products.
Initiative 1401, backed by Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen, makes it a crime to sell, purchase, trade, or distribute parts and products of any wildlife species covered under the initiative.
The animals included under this initiative are elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and ray species listed in Appendix I or II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Treaty, or listed as as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) red list.
“This is an enormous momentum-builder for the movement in the United States to shut down the commerce in trinkets, powders and pelts that are driving some of the world’s most iconic creatures to the precipice of extinction,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement. “The animals need their tusks, horns, heads and hides more than we do, and Washington voters have given our movement a shot in the arm with this resounding vote.”
Violations are punishable either as a gross misdemeanor, or a class C felony, which could result in a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a $10,000 fine, depending on the value of the wildlife products being traded. There are certain exceptions — such as antiques that are over 100 years old with less than 15 percent ivory, or musical instruments with less than 15 percent of banned wildlife products in them.
Last month, California governor Jerry Brown signed the AB 96 bill, “making it illegal to sell almost all elephant ivory and rhino horn, including most antiques.”
States of New York and New Jersey too, have banned trade in elephant ivory and rhino horns, with some exceptions.
“Washington voters have spoken out for elephants by overwhelmingly passing I-1401, which bans the trade in parts of elephants and other wildlife,” John Calvelli, Executive Vice President for the Public Affairs Division of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said in a statement. “Washington now joins California, New York and New Jersey, which have already enacted ivory bans.”